AP Top News at 12:34 a.m. EST

Franken's rising political star obscured by accusations
WASHINGTON (AP) - "Many of you have jobs, many of you have families," Sen. Al Franken told Democratic leaders gathered on the eve of a hotly contested governor's election in Virginia. After an expectant pause, he leaned into the microphone and added, "Ignore them." Franken was jokingly beseeching activists to get out the vote the following day, in what ended up as a surprisingly decisive victory for Democratic candidate Ralph Northam. But the moment, barely two weeks ago, also underscored how high the one-time "Saturday Night Live" comic had risen in his party's firmament. After spending much of his nearly nine years as senator trying to shed his funnyman image and quietly digging into issues like internet access and consumer protection, he was now a draw at political events and mentioned by some as a 2020 presidential possibility.


Trump credits troops, and himself, for military advances
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - President Donald Trump thanked U.S. troops for their service on Thursday, assuring them "we're really winning" against America's foes as he celebrated Thanksgiving at his private club in Florida and provided lunch for Coast Guard men and women on duty for the holiday. Using the occasion to pat himself on the back, Trump told deployed military members via a video conference that they've achieved more progress in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State group under his watch than had been made in years of the previous administration. "Everybody's talking about the progress you've made in the last few months since I opened it up," he told the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, whose members are conducting operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan.


Barton to go mum over disclosed photo, citing probe
WASHINGTON (AP) - Suggesting he's a victim of revenge porn from a jilted lover, Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas says he plans to go silent about the release of a nude photo of him online because police are investigating the disclosure as a possible crime against him. Authorities have not confirmed an investigation. The 68-year-old Barton, who joined the House in 1985, has acknowledged sharing intimate material with a lover and accused her of threatening to make it public when he ended the relationship. The unidentified woman told The Washington Post that she did not put it online and said the congressman sought to intimidate her by threatening to go to the authorities if she exposed his conduct.


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AP source: Flynn lawyers make a break with Trump team
WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told President Donald Trump's legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. The decision could be a sign that Flynn is moving to cooperate with Mueller's investigation or negotiate a deal for himself. Flynn's legal team communicated the decision this week, said a person familiar with the move who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. In large criminal investigations, defense lawyers routinely share information with each other. But it can become unethical to continue such communication if one of the potential targets is looking to negotiate a deal with prosecutors.


Zimbabwe asks if new leader, a Mugabe ally, can bring change
JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Zimbabwe's incoming leader Emmerson Mnangagwa, widely known as the Crocodile, is seen as a smart, ruthless politician, and many question if he will be able to bring the change the country craves. "We are witnessing the beginning of a new, unfolding democracy," the 75-year-old announced Wednesday upon his return to the country, two weeks after his firing by longtime mentor Robert Mugabe led to the president's downfall. Despite the message of inclusion, Zimbabweans noted that Mnangagwa made his first public remarks outside ruling ZANU-PF party headquarters and, switching to the local Shona language, praised the party. They ask whether Mnangagwa will be adequately independent from ZANU-PF to revive the battered economy and restore democracy with the backing of the opposition and others.


Sound heard in Argentine sub search was likely 'explosion'
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (AP) - An apparent explosion occurred near the time and place an Argentine submarine went missing, the country's navy reported Thursday, prompting relatives of the vessel's 44 crew members to burst into tears and some to say they had lost hope of a rescue. Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the search will continue until there is full certainty about the fate of the ARA San Juan, despite the evidence of an explosion and with more than a week having passed since the submarine disappeared. It was originally scheduled to arrive Monday at Argentina's Mar del Plata Navy Base.


Macy's Thanksgiving parade revels on amid tight security
NEW YORK (AP) - The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade featured balloons, bands, stars and heavy security in a year marked by attacks on outdoor gathering spots. With new faces and old favorites in the lineup, the Americana extravaganza made its way through 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) of Manhattan on a cold morning. "The crowds are still the same, but there's a lot more police here. That's the age we live in," Paul Seyforth said as he attended the parade he'd watched since the 1950s. "Not a lot's changed - the balloons, the bands, the floats - and that's the good thing," said Seyforth, 76, who'd flown in from Denver to spend his 50th wedding anniversary in New York and see this year's parade.


Papua New Guinea officials remove last refugees from camp
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - The last asylum seekers abandoned a closed immigration camp on Papua New Guinea on Friday, ending a three-week standoff between police and hundreds of men who had been prepared to suffer squalid conditions without power or running water rather than move to other residences where they feared violence. Police Chief Superintendent Dominic Kakas said police and immigration officials removed all 378 men from the male-only camp on Manus Island over two days and took them by bus to residences in the nearby town of Lorengau. Refugee advocates say officials used force and destroyed asylum seekers' belongings to make them leave Manus.


Shoppers mobilize on Thanksgiving, as retailers branch out
NEW YORK (AP) - Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving as retailers under pressure look for ways to poach shoppers from their rivals. As the holiday shopping season officially kicked off, retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy. But they're also looking beyond economic data and mapping out ways to pick up sales from other retailers as Amazon expands its reach. That can mean opening earlier than rivals on the holidays or even jumping into new product categories. So shoppers may find some surprises: toys and TVs at J.C. Penney, Barbies at Best Buy, kitchen appliances like wine refrigerators at B.J.'s.


Rivers, Chargers beat fading Cowboys 28-6 on Thanksgiving
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Philip Rivers was more than comfortable on the Thanksgiving stage for the first time in his 14 NFL seasons. Same with Keenan Allen, who didn't have to wait nearly that long. Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns, Allen had a career-high 172 yards in his second straight huge game and the Los Angeles Chargers beat the fading Dallas Cowboys 28-6 on Thursday. Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for the punctuating touchdown. The Chargers (5-6) moved within 1 1/2 games of AFC West-leading Kansas City after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs won their first five.